Thursday, 7 April 2011

Home Keepers Journal

In My Kitchen … Home made, melt-in-the-middle chocolate microwave sponge pudding; chicken rissoto with rocket; lots of honey and lemon for current cold.

With my Family … everything is a bit up in the air at the moment.

What I’m Reading … Mark 16;13-28, where Jesus asks Peter to trust him admist the storm, Peter tries and fails when he is distracted by his circumstances, but he asks for Jesus to save him. What struck me most is that Jesus' answer to Peter comes in the form of leading him to safety, he doesn't change Peter's circumstances until after he has taken him to a safe place. Also, the Spectator, and a general book on answering tough questions questions.

An area where I wish I was stronger … energy levels and endurance.

What I’ve Been Noticing … the beautiful smell of spring, both flowers and of sap rising in the trees. SO evocative.

I am looking forward to … … Easter break with my family.

On The Back Burner of My Mind … how I can a wise steward of all that God has given me, both at home and further afield.

In The Deepest Darkest Recesses … I must trust that my Lord is stirring things to grow.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Home Keepers Journal challenge

I'm joining in with Sylvia's Home Keeper Journal challenge over at Christian Home Keeper Network:

In My Kitchen This Week... I'm concentrating on making simple and delicious meals. Yesterday I made smoked mackerel, potato and onion soup; this evening, I have GF pasta with tuna, tomato and cheese.

Changes I Make To My Home In Spring … I have put away my fleece blankets, perhaps prematurely as tonight's temperature is meant to be below 0 degrees C; I'll celebrate the beginning of spring by buying some daffodils for my desk. I'll look through my clothes and see what I can send to the charity shops.

Changes In My Schedule … I look forward to British Summer Time, and the promise of brighter mornings, and not going to and coming home from work in the dark. The children at church will also be able to play outside and enjoy themselves after the 4pm service.

Changes In My Yard/Homestead … I moved into a new rented house in September, and really left the garden alone over winter, aside from planning from the warmth of the house. Today I began clearing the borders of bracken and yard after yard of brambles. I found bulbs underneath! -

What I Look Forward to This Spring … Doing more in the garden, cycling and running again (too cold for my asthma to cope with in Winter). Long walks in Home Park, Henry the VIII's hunting park, and Richmond Park.

Spring Brings with It … Insects. Not my favourite. I did manage to ignore the huge long legged spider on my wall last night and just go to bed. Perhaps I will call him George.

A Sure Sign Of Spring … Daffodils, green bulb shoots, Cadbury cream eggs in the shops.

A Favorite Spring Activity … Daffodils are so abundant just at this time. I seeing and stopping to sniff their sent as I walk about my area.

"I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils"


Why not head over to Sylvia's to see how others are feeling and thinking about spring?

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Our garden

Alas, not my garden!
Hampton Court gardens, January 1st

Our garden is currently pretty desolate. I moved in the end of September, which wasn't really the ideal time to start on anything. It has clearly had nothing done to it for sometime. On the other hand, you can see it once had beds around the edge, it has two apple trees, one eating and one cooking (so I'm told). Most of the evidence came from the rotting mushy fruit all over the lawn. Nice.

I have only ever grown radishes and rocket. They survived being left alone whilst I went back to school for several weeks. However, I am trying to go more by way of the organic route, and the most economical and pleasurable way of doing this without a car. We have a local organic veg co-operative whilst I will begin volunteering next Saturday, but I'm not sure I can carry a box of root veg home on the bus.

No livestock sadly. Perhaps it's for the best

This year we're hoping to do something with it. Young Hyun will want salad vegetable; she loves rocket and sesame leaves, a Korean favourite that are expensive to buy even in an area with such a high population of Koreans. I'm not sure what Ellen would like, I will have to ask her.

Daffodils growing through the fence around the allotment beside church

I would love to grow root veg: carrots (which I'm told are a bit of a pain; beetroot; spring and red or brown onion; potatoes. I too would love rocket, but it would silly to duplicate it, so I will ask Young Hyun if we can just plant lots. I'm not sure everyone else will want to go organic.
I'm hoping I can keep pests of my crops using 'companion plants' that are unattractive to insects who would generally go for the plants you put them next to. Soft fruit is also appealing. And some flowers, though some companions plants have flowers.

The main challenges in the garden will be:

Digging it over and weeding it
Pigeons! -but I do love them...
My own levels of energy

We've had a few brighter days of late,
which is probably why the garden is on my mind

Saturday, 25 December 2010

The weather outside is frightful...

The view over the Thames and Kingston bridge from the roof terrace,
John Lewis Kingston

The UK has had usually extreme weather the last few weeks, so much so that the AA recommended only emergency journeys be undertaken, and appeals went out over local radio stations to farmers and those with 4x4 vehicles to help midwives and doctors get to their patients. Thousands of schools were shut, the railways and airports closed or disrupted. John Lewis only closed early for one day, but lots of people were allowed to go early to make sure they could travel home safely.

Liberty's of London, September

Working in retail means Christmas starts in September time, as we begin planning months before, Our napkins, crackers and table cloth had to be ordered by mid-October, then the various work Christmas dinners costed. I promised by myself that after the work Christmas dinners (for a total of almost 700) were out of the way, I could actually join in with the looking forward to the celebration of Jesus birthday.

There are also red bows around the bottom of the nets
that I added after I took the picture

I strung fairy lights up through the window in my room overlooking the our street. It just makes the house look more friendly, you know?

We have four Korean girls staying with us at the moment, one 16 and other two 15. Young hyun told them I had a little tree, and they were so excited I let them put that up before they went on holiday. They don't speak very much English, but excitement transcends language, doesn't it? Ellen and I decided we'd wait a little longer to put our nativity scene. We made a stable quite late one night from an old shoe box, some kraft paper, some wool, and a gift tag. Ellen's nativity set is beautiful. We've been edging the wise men closer day by day.

Joseph went missing for a bit, and the angel won't stay upright unless you balance him against the back wall. But at least we found the itinerant father before we had finished.

I emailed the Covent Garden Soup Company not long ago, to compliment them on their delicious home made goodness. The Covent Garden Soup Company were founded in the 80's by a man disappointed he couldn't buy soup like his Mum's in the shops. They very kindly sent me a £5 voucher as a thank you for emailing them a compliment, so I went out and bought 3 cartons of tomato and herb. This is no 'cream of vegetable fat, whey powder and sodium overload' in a can. Fresh tomatoes, onions, basil, a little sugar and nothing you wouldn't recognise from your own kitchen. On Friday morning before I left for Cardiff, I filled my thermos with boiling water to heat it up, heated some Covent tomato and basil soup, filled the flask and ate the remainder for breakfast. I ate it on the train with some yummy brown Genius bread.

The journey itself was without any disruption, though when I arrived in Cardiff everywhere was coated in a sheet of ice. It was a question of sliding by accident or using it to my advantage. It was so dangerously slippery I didn't even make it to church. Which was rather a shame, I really wanted to go.

An uncooked duck is very ugly

We had roast duck, roasted potatoes, carrots and parsnips, pigs in blankets, gravy and stuffing. All gluten and dairy free. The gingerbread stuffing took several tries, but it was worth the effort. When you have cooked a duck, the little wings look like those wire racks you put over radiators to dry towels on.

Thank you Bigger brother!


Sunday, 12 September 2010

"When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted" Psalm 138:3

Often I find myself expecting my friends to understand me without ever having explained myself. It can be painful to explain things about yourself that you are embarrassed or ashamed of, but it can really help you.

I spent a lovely day yesterday on Edgecote Moore, at Chipping Warden near Banbury. After last year's success the MSS and the English Tournament Society and Black Bear events presented the second Edgecote tournament and battle of Edgecote Moore. I confess I don't have any photo's from this year - these are all from 2009. As a re - enactor, you're always torn between taking photos and appearing in - authentic to a public who are paying to see you.

I chose to go for just the Saturday this year. I've had some issues with anxiety lately and couldn't quite face all the organisational and time issues involved in going for all three days.

I left on the 0607 train from New Malden and arrived on the field at 0945. It was a good decision. All the fun of the day, without the stress. It has taken a while, but I've realised that issues connected with time are what cause me most anxiety. One of my friends pointed out several years ago that I am very 'time aware'; I often know what time it is without looking at the clock and I clock watch a good deal. And when I begin to struggle with life, I'm very reliant on routine.

And going away for the weekend for Edgecote, which I LOVE, filled me with dread. Organising food I can eat, going to bed on time, getting up on time, sharing a tent (albeit a very large one!) with four other people....


So I panicked for a bit. First I tried making up excuses, about not being able to leave in time from work on the Friday. They said they would be able to leave later. Then, sat in Starbucks after work, I rang them and explained I couldn't face being with so many people, swallowed my pride and asked if they minded if I came for just the Saturday. They asked about what this might mean for going away in the future etc. I tried to explain that my anxiety levels wax and wane, and some times I can do more than I can at other time. But was really hard, trying desperately not to cry in Starbucks on a Monday after an awful day at work.

Do you know what? It was worth it. I had an amazing day, and my friends know a little more about me. If I friends don't know what we find hard, how can they help us overcome things? God gives us friends to encourage us and uses them to help us change to be more like Jesus.

This might look like failure; I wanted to go for the whole weekend, and I only went for the day. But originally I was going to back out altogether; by God's Grace, I was able to go. By His grace I was humbled and admitted to my struggle. Only when we admit what we struggle with, can we seek His help with it.

I have one friend who is very gregarious. She is always really encouraging when I manage to go along and engage with people at events, because she knows I find spending time with people, particularly large groups, really challenging.

And she challenges me to go to some things rather than letting me off the hook all together. Sometimes we need that too!

I won't ask you to state on hear what you are embarrassed by or are ashamed of, but do have a think about. Pray about it. Our Heaven;y Father is waiting to hear from us.

(the Greek is coming along...slowly..)

Friday, 16 July 2010


or what life long learning looks like for most of us

You'll be relieved to hear that 'androgogy' is not a character from a science fiction novel.

Or disease.

I was introduced to the concept of androgogy (adult learning) during a very dull lecture series at university. It was so boring my friend Jo and I would sit right at the back and make notes from textbook for our other modules. And text our friend Paul about weevils eating our brains. It was that bad.

However, the concept itself peaked my interest. I LOVE learning. I wasn't all that good at it at school; I was dyslexic and didn't know it, and was distracted by bullying. I found solace in writing, skipping from Grade 2 flute to Grade 5 flute in a year, and learning instruments I liked the sound of instead of concentrating on what I should have been. I left with one A level in art (C), an AS in biology (E,just) and an AS in music (D) that I decided I wanted to take at 17 having never done GCSE. I'd have done better in that if the music history teacher had taught us anything; a U in one unit does rather drag down the other B and C. Another overall D grade.

Canbury gardens, Kingston

At university I struggled with the amount of reading and writing, an endless cycle of failing and re-taking modules. I passed all the practical, but was finally forced to leave 6 weeks from the end because I'd failed too many credits. It was heart breaking in a number of ways. I'd failed yet
another thing. But Jesus had brought me home and had given me a place in an amazing family.

Sovereignty of God conference, Easter 2005, Shropshire

I felt like my opportunity at education had passed. I'd failed my A-levels. I'd failed university. I felt I had very little to show for the previous five years.

I worked for GAP. I started learning the trumpet. I nannied for two very cute kidlets. I passed a St John's First Aid at work course and was so proud to have succeeded at something I cried and thanked God for his kindness. I dabbled in learning a language, then another. I joined John Lewis. And I struggled horribly. A department manger saw potential no one else had, including me. I moved sections and found a place where I could fitted in well and flourished.

But I still worried about the time I was wasting working in retail, surrounded by people killing time before finding a 'real' job. I started learning Biblical Koine Greek.

A labour of love

In September I moved in to a new house with six other people. I cleared out lots of stuff. My friend Ellen moved in to the new house too. I was living with an English, Christian girl for the first time in three years. And five Koreans girls, but the Korean part was normal for me. My room is huge, light and airy compared to anything I'd ever had. And a garden we were allowed to play with.

Then I was offered the opportunity to train as a manager. It had a profound affect on me. I made me consider that sometimes, despite our best efforts, good things happen. And that it's okay to be excited about them, and not catastrophise about what might potentially go wrong. Lots of women seem to struggle with this. It's a safety mechanism for me; so many things went wrong when I was growing up, it was just less crushing to expect the worst before it occured.

But it's no way to exist, I promise, because whilst pessimists are seldom disappointed, you miss so many good things.

Jephson Gardens, Leamington Spa, October 2010

When I say good things, I don't just mean becoming a manager. I mean loads of other stuff I had stopped thinking about because my only concept of success was based on receiving a piece of paper. What do I mean? I mean learning as an adult is so much broader and far reaching. It's about relationships with friends and family, learning patience, humility and compassion. It's about God's plans for you, which aren't necessarily the ones you had for yourself. It's about giving of yourself to other people, loving them when it hurts. Scraping dirty dishes, standing up for others, being discreet, sharing with them when they are hurting, smiling day after day and being cheerful. In a suit. Out of suit (hopefully wearing something else instead!) God presents us with opportunities to learn to be like His Son at home and at work.


And the point?

I am learning. Every day. God is teaching me. The opportunities to learn are endless. They are unplanned for the most part, but some times making the best use of them requires a good deal of effort. Keep asking questions. Be curious. Expect Him to challenge you. Enjoy being a student in the school of life. Be kind to yourself, ask for help, seek forgiveness, start again in the knowledge that you aren't alone in this; Christ goes with you. As Rachel from over at Small Notebook pointed out in her post about 'The difficulty of doing less', the problem is is that if we try to have or do the same as everybody else, we miss out on the joy of doing what we are uniquely gifted to do. God knows us best, not society with it's expectations.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Perfect rest

I wrote the following in the January of this year. I waste so much of my life, not seeking God's will, but wishing he would fulfil my own.

I come to the cross
to seek the wisdom of one who has gone before.


It is so hard a task to
cast yourself upon Him
who cares for you,
when he feels so far away.
Are my tears not a drop
more in the ocean of mankind's misery?
But when tempests toss the
waves of my own
mood, who could steady
them but He who
commanded the waters to be still?


What more can I say for
my Lord and His character,
than that when I am at
my lowest, when I
cannot see or feel or hear Him,
I know his will is to be
Why is it that even
when we are resigned
to God's course of actions,
that we are pained when
our own plans do not
come to fruition?


How many tears we shed
at the sight of our own
foolish plans, gone unfulfilled.

How many sleepless nights,
our minds race with
what would not, could not be.

How many an hour spent
in dreaming a future
He did not deem to be ours.

How many hours, days,
months, years and lives
wasted, not content to rest
in His perfect will.



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